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mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Well, well. An entire week. Which just happens to coincide with the end of the month, this time.

Did a little work on the network configuration, aimed at making things more stable in the DMZ (the area between the Internet modem/router (polaris) and the inside gateway/router (stargate)). In particular, I got rid of an obsolete DHCP reservation for cygnus, that was conflicting with stargate's static IP address. Gleep! No wonder stargate's WiFi dropped out every so often.

Also for computer geeks: I got Colleen a 7" tablet. It's a Jazz, on sale at Office Depot for $70. Markedly inferior to my Nexus 7, but it does what she wants it to: web browsing and email. The only problem right now is printing; that's going to require setting up Google cloudprint. Which is kind of stupid for talking to a CUPS printer, but...

I *finally* got autoraise back -- turns out that the compiz window manager doesn't actually listen to the desktop config items anymore; Ubuntu has hacked them up to accomodate the Unity desktop. Which is Unbearable.

A number of other geeky items that I ordered during the last week dribbled in, including a case and USB-OTG cable for the Nexus, a really tiny 32-GB USB drive, a couple of uSD cards and adapters (16- and 32-GB), and a couple of other items that suggest that I probably need to stay off of Amazon for a while.

We got Chaos a microwave oven (hers had died). Colleen got the amethyst necklace she'd commissioned at Orycon -- this involved a trip to Wayward.

Moving on, ... I don't really like the way my weight has been going. I think that much of the recent increase was due to going off my diuretic. It was an interesting experiment, but my BP's on the high edge of normal right now; it may be worthwhile going back on the meds.

Of course, my BP would probably go down if I lost 30 poumds, too. Which would be better for me in other ways as well.

The last time I successfully lost weight was my senior year in college. Over 40 years ago.

Humph. One of the things I really like about commuting by bus is that it gives me time to read. I'm not a particularly fast reader, a trait which is better adapted to poetry than to novels. I am, nevertheless, reading two books right now. The one on my Nexus (via Kindle) is Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking by E. Gabriella Coleman -- an anthropologist's view of hacker culture. Fascinating.

The other, on my phone from Gutenberg via Cool Reader, is Pride and Prejudice, which has been highly recommended to me but was something I was always leery of. It's... ok, I guess. Perhaps someone more familiar with the genre could tell me whether it's meant to be funny -- there's an undercurrent of what appears to be wry amusement on the part of the author. Perhaps one problem is simply the lack of characters I can easily identify with. I'm curious, but not involved.

Anyway... details in the notes, as usual. I should probably try to get back on a twice/week schedule, shouldn't I?

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mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Just Friday I wrote "ideal would be to rent the house to fans/hackers. It's perfect - server closet, 2 physical phone lines, shelf space... By Saturday evening we had a household lined up. They're fans, and want to carry on the Grand Central Starport traditions. The rent will cover the mortgage and insurance, and if we're lucky the market will bounce back a little over the next few years.

I spent a goodly amount of time Saturday working on my LinkedIn profile, and a little on my resume and portfolio site (at Stephen.Savitzky.net), and updated some of my other sites.

I took a walk on Friday -- a full three miles. Felt pretty good. And Saturday, after looking at quite a few alternatives, we ordered Colleen a new scooter, the Pride Go-Go Elite Traveller Plus HD. It's about an inch longer than her current scooter, and the deck is about four inches wider in front, which means she can get into it more easily and have a place to rest her feet. The wheels are bigger, too, so it will have less trouble with the kind of obstacles one encounters indoors and on the sidewalk.

Did I mention that I finally dealt with the $1K denied claim in my FSA account last week? It'll help.

We have started to friendcycle cookbooks. Fiction, and the nonfiction books in the office, will have to be tackled soon.

For today's link, see ysabetwordsmith's poem: "Ari and the Atheist" What does it mean to be an atheist in a world where everyone can see that the gods exist?

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mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I don't know whether this will be a regular feature or not, but maybe for the next few months. We're moving to Seattle sometime in the next six months. That means we're having to pare down our posessions, for the first time in 36 years. So...

Colleen has been triaging the cookbooks. We now have about 15 shelf-feet of them, in 8 piles and no particular order, that are looking for new homes. Simplest thing would be to come over any Wednesday, but for any other day just call ahead. Colleen is almost always glad of the company.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Yesterday was a going-away lunch for me and fellow laid-off coworker [livejournal.com profile] rowanf, at Rowan's favorite Indian buffet. Yum. Apart from that, not much done at work.

I was able to request a password on the pension website, so that's progress. They were supposed to get in touch with me if they got my SS# straightened out, but I'm not counting on them not to screw that up too. On the whole, though, I'm not being as productive as I need to be.

My last day at work is a week from tomorrow. Ya think that has something to do with it?

Checkin at my Avoid Avoiding group was, of course, considerably longer than usual -- the last two weeks had been cancelled, for different reasons. But that took me from the Consonance concert, through the layoff, to my birthday. Um... yeah. Interesting times.

Colleen has been triaging cookbooks. She found dust rhinos lurking on the shelves behind them. Quite a few found new homes last night, but we still have huge piles. Colleen reads cookbooks like novels and, as with novels, not all of them are worth re-reading. We still have to do the fiction. And the books in the office. And the art books. And the boxes of my late mother-in-law's books in the attic. And the CDs, videos, and vinyl. And...

Eeep! Here's a review of Robots Around the House, but I don't see any that would help with moving. We need a packing bot.

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mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

It was a busy day, and a good one despite doing something unpleasant to my lower back and being sleepy enough to go to bed early. I had the house pretty much to myself all afternoon, with the YD up in her room (as usual) and Colleen up in San Francisco at the orchid show.

In the morning, I set up communities to discuss [personal profile] pocketnaomi's idea for a new Underground Railroad: you'll find them at underground_rail.dreamwidth.org and undergroundrail.livejournal.com. I also followed a link in a comment to Jane: An Abortion Service. There's a book, too, which I ordered.

I did quite a lot of puttering, including moving some fabric out of the former sewing room (now a combination pantry and guest room) into the "sewing corner" of the living room. That's probably what made my back unhappy.

I went out to REI and Fry's to look for a netbook sleeve, having decided that the Belkin netbook case I'm using now takes up too much room in my carry-on. In particular, there isn't quite enough room left over for my songbooks, which is very unhelpful. I ended up getting this one at Amazon instead.

[livejournal.com profile] moon_fox finished the picture of Rosie that I prompted for at her Character Art Jam. Very cool -- kinda grows on one, which is totally the Right Thing.

I started working on dinner, which consisted of split pea soup, chili (from scratch), and rice with garbanzos. Just as I was finishing up, Colleen came back from the orchid show with an enormous plant -- a green cymbidium that she had already dubbed Arabella (apparently so as not to have it confused with Audrey). She had been there at the very end of the show, so for the $25 she'd been planning to spend on a couple of stems to make corsages out of, she got a $200 plant from a vendor who didn't want to lug it back home.

I put up my S4S post about 8:30, and by 10pm was falling asleep in my chair. Splat.

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Hmm. A pretty good day, I guess. Maybe? 2.3mi walk. Worked seriously on the Consonance concert set, and got in some practice. Put in a request for a concert at Westercon.

I realized, during my walk, that I don't know how to smile on demand. Never have. I smile when it's... induced?... by the situation, but I can't do it deliberately. Supposedly, if one smiles, one becomes happier. The best I can do now seems to be some kind of grimace. I'm guessing it's a skill worth learning. Wonder how much time looking stupid in front of a mirror it's going to take...

I spent quite a lot of time reading The Language of Emotions; my bullshit meter pegged at a couple of points, especially in a section where she groups various drugs and practices into categories by their effects. Other parts seem to make sense, but how much of it can really be trusted? I don't know enough about the subject to tell.

About 10:30 pm I started drifting off. As I'm starting to do now.

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Some days I just don't get a whole lot done, I guess. It was actually pretty productive at work, and I left late in case I was needed during a server upgrade.

Colleen and the YD got in even later -- they had gone to the San Francisco Zoo and taken the long way home. It pleases me no end that Colleen is getting out of the house more lately.

I was able to get in a little more practice in the morning, and worked out the tentative setlist (songs, not order) for my Conflikt Consonance concert over a lunchtime IM session with Naomi. (2 weeks from tonight -- eep!) I seem to have picked up Naomi's habit of theming concerts. No walk, but I don't feel particularly bad about that; I don't want to overdo it with my hips still on the edge of hurting.

Today's link, via a review in LWN, is Open Advice: "a knowledge collection from a wide variety of Free Software projects. It answers the question what 42 prominent contributors would have liked to know when they started so you can get a head-start no matter how and where you contribute." It's a free download licensed CC-BY-SA; you can also buy a paper copy.

I really like the fact that the "download" section includes a get source link pointing to the LaTeX on GitHub.

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mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Hmm. Pretty decent, I guess; some music, a walk, and some reading. On the other hand, my netbook flaked out twice, and I ended the day feeling rather restless. More on that later.

On my walk I tried out the Cardio Trainer app on my phone. It immediately started talking at me, and playing the one song I'd downloaded as a test to see if the phone could play oggs. But once I'd gotten it properly configured, it seemed to work ok. Expect better walking stats, on those days when I remember to use it.

The phone's AMOLED screen is bright enough to use outdoors in the shade; that's a major win, and makes me glad I went for the Pantech over the HTC.

I've started reading The Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren. It's rather odd. I alternate between little "aha" moments, and wondering what language she's writing in. It's going to take some serious work, but will probably be valuable.

I'm hoping the netbook's flakiness turns out to be Firefox and flash. However, it just occurred to me that a memory test might be in order.

And, ok, about that restless feeling. I'm wondering whether it's bleeding over from my economic trainwreck, where I'm feeling trapped by a lifetime of inaction and bad decisions. Not much I can do at this point, hence the trapped feeling. It would make some kind of sense, but I'm not sure that rationality really applies here.

It is, perhaps, appropriate that the song I've been working on lately is "Landscapes": "In your heart and your mind/I am traveling blind..." Something like that. Only it's my heart, too.

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I seem to have more notes than I usually do at a con. Possibly due to the fact that I'm spending more down time. The lobby (where the bar is) and mezzanine (where the programming is) are connected, and incredibly noisy. That's probably a large part of why I ran out of spoons around 10pm and went upstairs to bed. That, the fact that something in dinner wasn't sitting well, and that I'd just spent two hours in the room waiting for the hotel to clean up the mess made by the overflowed toilet.

The apparent problem with the phone was just pilot error -- it's cordless, and I didn't press the talk button. Not so much as "idiot bear" as totally overloaded and flustered, and perfectly willing to believe that One More Thing was going wrong.

... so I didn't get to any of the concerts.

I did get a couple of nice strokes, though -- one person told me that one of his coworkers has a copy of my book on his desk, and another told me that she'd used my River posts about the care and feeding of geeks to understand and deal with a coworker. Those felt good.

Lots of people seem to know me by name who I don't recognize at all. "He's losing his memory and some of his hair"? That's somewhat disturbing.

It was a good day for most of it, I ended the day feeling seriously down and drained. This was almost certainly a simple matter of being out of spoons rather than depression -- I'm ok now. I think it's hard for me to distinguish physical exhaustion from sensory overload from emotional depression, though. That's something I'm going to have to work on.

A couple of links.

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Um... ok. You'd think that after spending a lot of the weekend sitting on my tail with my netbook, I'd have posted something. You'd be wrong. Actually, I was mostly reading Flight of the Godkin Griffin (it starts with this post), ... and taking care of my friends.

I originally planned to go to Seattle to rehearse with the other members of Tempered Glass, Naomi and Callie. But Naomi started the weekend feeling ghastly, her daughter had health problems of her own, and Callie had a combination of chem homework and, by the time Monday morning came around, a stomach bug. Saturday mid-day was mostly spent getting the house ready for the house-cleaners who came in the afternoon, and Saturday night was spent taking care of Naomi.

Late Saturday night (early Saturday morning?) N. asked me how I managed to be so cheerful. I really didn't know, and still don't, except that helping friends is one of the things I do, and taking care of sick people is something I've gotten very good at over the last few years. And it's easier to triage somebody else's piles of paper.

We didn't do much singing. A little.

And yet it was a good weekend for me. It was a relaxed weekend with friends; plenty of time to hang out, talk, sit in companionable silence with our respective books, and talk about love, friendship, chemistry, cooking, and the uses of whimsy. Did I mention the salmon? Installing the new cable modem? The rush of happiness when they both told me they couldn't have made it through the weekend without me? (Yes, they could have gotten help from more distant friends, but it wouldn't have been the same.)

There were a couple of brief exchanges with Ame -- you'll find those in the notes, flagged with a "/". And it was a good weekend for the Middle-Sized Bear to manifest himself.

I'd been expecting it to be a working weekend. A different kind of work, to be sure, but I'm not complaining. It really was good.

But, Gods! -- it's not quite 10 pm, and I'm falling asleep in my chair. Good night, all.

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Well... a pretty good day. Not least because a certain coworker appears to be pretty close to having his task done, so I won't have to step in. Convenient. And I took a full 3-mile walk!

And my pre-ordered hardcopy of Cat Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making arrived in the mail, which is simply wonderful. Go buy a copy!

Unsurprisingly, there are glitches after my desktop and server upgrades to Debian 6.0 (Squeeze). Just fixed printing on the server this morning, and playback on my soundcard is still broken. Chrome is flaky. Grumble.

I'm not packed for my weekend trip to Seattle yet, and I still have a lot of paperwork to do. Eeek!

Some intriguing links about Android, and a lot of depressing political/economic stuff. Grump.

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A pretty good day, though mostly in the sense of retail therapy -- I didn't take a walk. :(

Lots of puttering, and I ordered Colleen's Mother's Day present (it's ok, it's right off her Amazon wish-list and she knows all about it) and pre-ordered The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. So that was good.

Somehow green stuff got left out of Colleen's last grocery order, so I went (rather reluctantly) to Zanotto's to buy same, to go with the skirt steak. The roasted brussels sprouts turned out particularly well: cut in half, toss with olive oil, sea salt, and a little crushed red pepper, place cut side down on a cookie sheet, and roast at 450 for 15-20min. Extreme yum. Also greatly to yum was the caprese-style salad of heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzerella, onions, and avacados. The skirt steak with caramelized onions was good, but it wasn't the high point of the meal by any means.

I started reading [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar's Flight of the Godkin Griffin, and tuned in to her livestream for a while (where I met [livejournal.com profile] catsittingstill -- fun!).

Not much in the way of links, but feel free to look.

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Hmm. OK, I guess. A nice walk through parts of the DeAnza campus, again. A couple of phone calls that ended in voice mail, but at least I got off my arse and called.

Finished Palimpsest -- it's full of the same intricate, mysterious beauty and unstated background that I love in Cordwainer Smith. Not for everyone, certainly, but this Middle-Sized Bear enjoyed it immensely.

Found out my official title that's going on the new business cards. Principal Engineer -- which sounds impressive, but I still miss the autonomy and relaxed schedule of research, and most of all I miss being part of the design, planning, and decision-making process. I'm trying to stay optimistic.

And I installed Ubuntu 10.4 in an open partition on my work desktop machine. It recognized my 1920x1280 display, which Debian didn't, but impolitely failed to install whatever it needed for dual booting. And it's not the old grub, so I don't know how to fix it. Grumble. It'll work out, and it's what we've standardized on for servers, so I was going to have to do it eventually.

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A good day, and all's well that ends better, with a little bit of practice and a lot of good Snuggle. Weight still down at 197.6, which is good, and X over ssh has usable performance from work via the new gateway. I win.

Work was taken up by a couple of meetings and a tech report.

Some good links under the cut, as usual. Who would have guessed that there would be a Y2k+10 problem, caused by confusion between BCD and binary? I remember BCD... New Yorkers and Londoners, especially, will appreciate Underskin

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A really lazy day -- too rainy to go out, and I woke didn't wake up until nearly 11am. So much for working on the network while everyone else was asleep! Still have to pull the Big Switch between the old gateway/DSL line and the new one. Not to mention several other big changes.

I finished reading The Admonishments of Kherishdar -- very wise and beautiful.

Some good IM conversations, and a little singing. All-in-all a good day, even though little got done. I need to learn that I don't have to Do Things every day; spending quiet time in the living room with Colleen is at least as important.

In the link department, The Shocking Truth About Running Shoes -- which is the not-very-shocking news that humans evolved to run barefoot. This includes some unique modifications of the foot for efficient long-distance running, which are totally negated by running in shoes.

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Apart from not taking a walk (the weather was cold, and raining on and off, but I could have walked if I'd really wanted to) it was a very good day. Productive, as I mentioned upstream in River: A following wind?

It started with a mysterious network outage. Having no idea when or whether it would end, I took it as a Strong Hint from the universe that I ought to finish configuring my updated gateway to talk to the new U-Verse connection. It took more work than I expected, because I hadn't updated my ShoreWall configuration files, and some things, especially in the rules file, are considerably different between Etch and Lenny. Before I had it working, the other connection was back and Colleen was awake.

I took the YD to an audition; she decided to bag it after hearing that she'd be expected in LA two or three times/week. Not while she's still in high school and living with us! I spent most of the rest of the afternoon getting the gateway back up and exploring the modem/router's configuration pages. Whee! DNS still isn't right.

I made a tasty dinner, and had a couple of very good, and productive, conversations via IM. And it looks as though Tempered Glass will have a gig at Orycon as well as NorWesCon. Colleen will definitely be coming with me to Ory, which is close enough to drive to.

And in the evening,... I'm gradually learning to connect a certain kind of intense physical reaction with, of all things, joy. Oh. More upstream, I think, later.

In connection with that, this post by [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar on the difference between happiness and contentment seems particularly apropos:

Before I can speak, he says, "No, aunerai, it's not the same. Contentment is a state... you see, here is the noun form, veshem. But happiness is a moment. It can never be a state. One can be anil, "happy," but not exist there. It passes... that's normal."

It's from the "extras" page of The Admonishments of Kherishdar, which is wonderful!

So... yeah. Good day. Can't say as much for last night, which saw me awake between 3:30 and nearly 6, and sleeping until 10:45. But that, as they say, is another day.

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The day started rather badly. Apparently I spoke too soon about the new med working on BPH. :-P And I discovered, when I went to put the laundry in the drier, that I'd managed to wash my Samsung headset. (It appears to be sort-of working after drying out and charging; we'll see.)

But I got the YD to the airport on time, ordered a couple of Dr. Seuss books that somehow eluded me over the years, had a visit from an old friend, and took a good walk around the Rose Garden in between. (9444 steps for the day! Best this week -- go me!)

And I managed to reconstitute Harmony, my old desktop system, to the point where it would at least boot and let me grab the root filesystem off Nova's old disk before reformatting it as NTFS for the Wolfling's external drive.

I was very sleepy in the evening; something about being awakened by the YD sometime around 5am. And two glasses of wine in the evening probably didn't hurt, either. On the whole not a bad day, I guess.

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It was a pretty good Christmas day. Morning, especially, was delightful -- I woke up in a good mood, had bagels and lox for breakfast and had a blast watching the kids squee over their presents. I didn't even mind being woken up before 7am to go get the bagels and lox.

Afternoon was mostly spent making the borscht, that and the remains of the ham made up lunch and dinner. There were only a handful of people over besides the five currently in the house; even so, I spent a fair amount of time in the office.

Colleen gave a Creole cookbook to Chaos and Selkit; now she wants one for us. I should probably get a copy of There's a Wocket in My Pocket.

I made a couple of River posts -- I'm pleased about that. I'm also pleased about being pretty sensitive to my moods throughout the day. No walkies, though, and no progress on the FSA forms. I'm rather annoyed at myself for those. Still, a pretty good day.

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Not a terribly productive day, so it had overtones of failure, but pretty good on the whole. Some very good spots: hearing that JRP wanted to keep the YD on for another year of modeling, etc. classes. A happy phone call delivering that news to Callie, while walking around the top of the nearby hill. (Not really much of a walk in terms of exercise, but it was sunny and pleasant.) Some conversation in the evening, though not as much as I would have liked. A little noodling on the guitar.

I finished reading The Highly Sensitive Person -- I'm still not sure how much of it is applicable, though certainly a lot of it is. Maybe I've just been very effective at suppressing a lot of what sensitivity I have, and never developed the skills to use it. It's certainly put things in a different light; there will be a River post once I've digested it more fully.

Too many projects I need to get back to.

Plenty of links up there under the cut.

... and it's too late to post a Wishful Wednesday, but not too late to wish you all a happy holiday season, whatever it is you celebrate.

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On the whole an "ok" day -- my mood stayed mostly positive. And I did something that I've been avoiding for maybe six months, and called Alhambra to ask for a refund of some of the $1500 payment I sent to them instead of to Amex (the two lines are, of course, adjacent on my bank's payment page). The rep was very pleasant; I have no idea why I'd been avoiding it, except that it was something I'd never done before. Did I mention that I'm not very adventurous?

I also pointed RDNA.ORG's nameservers at Yahoo so that the person who has a wonderful Reformed Druid site on Geocities can move it to a more appropriate location. That was another thing I'd been putting off a little too long.

I have yet to think of a good way of rewarding myself for doing the hard things on my to.do list, aside from patting myself on the back here in LJ.

I started reading The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron. It's been something of a revelation. A year or so ago I wouldn't even have thought of classifying myself as "sensitive". But I scored 20 on the self test, where 12 is the threshold. Some of the questions were iffy, but a 33% margin doesn't leave much room for doubt.

And thanks to [livejournal.com profile] cflute's data-mining skills, I have a new pair of Keen brooklyn mid boots on order.

So, yeah; a pretty good day, now that I think about it.

A few more links up there in the notes.

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Not really a bad day, on the whole, but not all that great either. Really good in the middle, when I took the YD to her photo shoot. That was fun!

But I woke up remembering bits of a dream where I went into a melt-down in a laundry room because the drier was full of soggy clothes, and there was a shallow sink on top of the drier full of soggy clothes, and there was another load in my hands that for some reason I couldn't put back in the washer. Huh?

And at 8:45pm I found myself feeling vaguely sad and out-of-it, possibly because I wasn't doing anything, just staring blankly at my to-do list, and possibly because I hadn't had a walk. I was calmer and basically ok by 11ish, though with a tension headache that I haven't tracked down the cause of yet.

I went to bed around 11:45, got to sleep nearly an hour later after some nice cuddle and conversation, and was awakened at 3:30 by the fire alarm. My best guess at the moment is either a dead battery or an insect nesting in the damned thing. I never got back to sleep.

Let's start the links off with [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar, and a post about underrated gifts. Which I got to from her Christmas Wishlist, which is remarkable for asking for such practical but inexpensive things as recipes, links, reviews, and tip jars. That segues naturally into her book The Aphorisms of Kherishdar, which I finished reading online in the dark hours of the morning, and immediately ordered the hardcopy of. I probably shouldn't visit Amazon when I'm sleep-deprived and decaffeinated, should I? But I think one of the best gifts you can give an artist is to buy one of their works. See above.

On a couple of ongoing River topics, here's a different and very sensible take on The Stages of Grief, and a comment by [livejournal.com profile] kyrielle: "...But it's easy for people to assume I'm an extrovert because, hey, talkative and not visibly shy. (Not the same thing at all as introvert, but people do tend to mix the two in their minds sometimes.)"

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A very uneventful and mostly unproductive day. Yeah, I know I need a little down time, and I did get about a foot or so of books moved into the bedroom, but still...

Odd walk to the Rose Garden, with a couple of poorly-explained slowdowns. There were people's lawns that I'd never noticed before, or at least don't remember noticing; I must have been at least a little bit in the moment. I sat for a while by the fountain, observing but not really meditating.

Thought about calling a friend, but didn't. Slightly tense; a little down.

Made dinner by microwaving some packaged, frozen chili verde: the fact that it came out significantly better than what we'd had a Chevy's on Thursday was pretty sad, but not unexpected. I decided not to have seconds, which is rare. Go me! (I'm having the leftovers for breakfast.)

Since I'd noticed it while shuttling books I decided to read Julius Fast's Body Language. Some of the cultural differences, from having been written by a male, white East Coast resident in 1970, were a little jarring. And I don't think it was particularly helpful, though I did get one useful insight out of it:

Colleen and I usually sit next to one another, facing in the same direction, but close enough to hold hands with a little reaching. Some of our communication difficulties may come from the fact that she's often not looking at me when she wants to start or continue a conversation, so she has no way of knowing whether she actually has my attention. We're both getting a lot better about this, though.

Mostly what I got from Body Language, though, was that the subject is still poorly-understood even by experts, and that there are a lot of signals I never learned when most people do, and will probably never take the time and effort to learn now. I may be able to pick up a few by observation now that I know what to look for. Maybe.

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Mostly a good day; well, a good evening, anyway. I spent much of the afternoon feeling oddly down and discouraged, for no detectable reason.

The evening, though, was great: we arrived at Seanan McGuire's book signing early enough to get dinner at a tasty little Mexican hole-in-the-wall called Cactus, and still had time to hang out, buy copies, and get them signed. Lots of people we usually only get to see at cons, and it gave Colleen a chance to show her face in public. Yay! We win!

Sang for Colleen. I probably need to get streaming audio set up, don't I?

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

The high point of the day came in the evening as Colleen and I shared the season's first gravenstein apple from our back-yard tree. WOW!

The Gravenstein was introduced to western North America in the early 19th century, perhaps by Russian fur traders, who are said to have planted a tree at Fort Ross in 1811.

The fact that I was also on IM with a friend who was having a wonderful day helped, too.

I got to work fairly early and managed to get in a walk after the morning meeting, plus a full afternoon of testing, debugging, and code exploration. Whether that will be enough to give me something testable by tomorrow afternoon's teleconference is still a very open question, but I'm pretty confident that there will be something working by next week, which is when I really need it.

I forgot to mention that I finished reading The Caregiver Helpbook over the weekend; yesterday I started on Full Catastrophe Living, which [livejournal.com profile] cflute recommended. Reading is one of the few things I can do almost anywhere, because it can block out almost any kind of distraction. I'm finally re-learning how useful it can be to combine it with other things, like sitting with Colleen and waiting until she needs help with something.

ETA: Also forgot to mention that Colleen got in and out of the van to go shopping with Marty. It's higher and harder than the Honda, but it means a lot -- that's her car. She's hoping to be able to drive herself in a month or two.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

We celebrated our older daughter's 24th birthday by having a new toilet installed in the upstairs bathroom. Well, OK, I also gave her an upgrade to her cell phone. Which, given the design of the AT&T website, was a much more stressful experience.

My book order from Powell's finally arrived, a full month after I placed it. Blame the Post Offal's "media rate" for that. I've been reading The Caregiver Helpbook. Not only is it helpful for me, I think it would be useful for anyone who finds themselves thinking they have to "do it all", or place someone else's needs above their own 100% of the time. Sound familiar? Think about it.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

Found out yesterday morning that Colleen can now stand up for about a minute without holding on to anything! Makes getting dressed a lot easier. She'll be walking with a walker for quite a while yet.

Last night was our first "weekly evening out" -- we went to the Pruneyard, a local shopping mall that we used to enjoy. It's changed a lot, of course. We made note of a couple of interesting-looking restaurants, and had a nice dinner of assorted meze at the little Greek place. Went for a drive afterwards.

We also went to Barnes & Noble; the original plan was just to window-shop, but how could we possibly resist a cookbook with the title The Veganomicon? I picked up an on-sale copy of Body Language by Julius Fast; probably not all that useful, but maybe worth reading. Anyone familiar enough with it to know where the pitfalls are?

Pidgin 2.5.7 fixes the bug caused by Yahoo's protocol change; there seem to be some minor issues with the latest sources, but it runs fine from the build tree. It does not build on Etch -- there are some missing dependencies. One more reason to upgrade my desktop box at work.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

I woke up around 7:30, but added another hour and a half of semi-conscious dozing. Took some cyclobenzaprine (it's not nearly as good a sleeping pill if you take it in the morning); it seems to have done a pretty good job on the various muscle spasms. I still don't like what "getting enough sleep" -- if that's what it is -- does to my day.

Added a couple more books to my Powell's order. Of course, my "to be read" shelf is already overflowing, but at least the psych stuff is important enough to go to the front of the queue. If I'm ever awake long enough to read anything.

Installed the cheap USB printer switch that I got at Fry's on Saturday, so that visitors like [livejournal.com profile] cflute can use the laser printer without having to mess with swapping cables. It still prints from Nova, at least, so I'm happy.

Took a 3-mile walk, but it felt like I was walking through invisible mud; I think I was more depressed afterward than when I started. Dinner, noodling on the guitar... At least I seem to have bounced back to "sort-of OK" as of this morning.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

The morning was pretty productive -- I got Tres Gique's Baycon concert indexed and shifted around the links under tres-gique.com to reflect the new directory organization. It all still needs to be automated, but that's a different matter. In the evening I wrote index files for the Consonance concerts, so one can now navigate around without running into errors.

Had an intensely frustrating time with Kaiser, involving five phone calls and an in-person visit to find out that their caregiver support group is more general than the blurb on the website suggests. Another visit to find out that, no, there's simply no way I could have found this out on the web or with email. Phone or nothing.

I did a little meditation scattered around in odd moments, and I've started using a new "to.done" flag, "|", to mark body sensations, much the same way I use "!" to mark emotions.

A delightful phone call from [livejournal.com profile] cflute in the evening led me to order Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat Zinn; since I also had a recommendation from two weeks ago for Wherever You Go, There You Are by the same author, I ordered that too, and found a used copy of the Caregiver Helpbook from Legacy Caregiver Services, which I'd seen earlier while looking for caregiver support groups.

We went to bed at 10pm, and I didn't get up until 9:30 this morning. That's at least 5 hours out of what I think of as a "normal" day that I didn't have. This is annoying.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
to.done 20090327 )

It was a rather strange day. Mostly good, but strange.

I think the strangest bit by far was remembering, more-or-less out of the blue, the name of my high school history teacher. (Although I was thinking about history, and how my interest in biographies differs from [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi's. She seems to be most interested in how people affect events, and how those events affect their lives. I'm more interested in how people think, and events are interesting mainly in how they affect what goes on in their heads.

I really don't know how I feel about remembering Mrs. Ryan.

It was also very strange to see my Younger Daughter's boyfriend; they make a cute couple and seem to care about one another. On the other hand, they're both gamers. Strange indeed (though both amusing and delightful) to go upstairs and find that both daughters have visible carpet on their floors. As the Wolfling said, "it's green, not stuff-colored."

And my evening conversation with [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi about I Never Promised You a Rose Garden got into some strange territory as well. I am still getting used to the fact that there may not be words for some of what's going on in my head, and that even when the words -- like "love" or "embarrassment" or "self-image" -- exist, people rarely have the same definition for them. How can one discuss things without a common language? How can I think about things without using words?

The 3am phone call wasn't strange at all. A friend needed someone to talk with. That's what Middle-Sized Bears do.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Figuring out how my mind works sometimes turns out to be rather like debugging a complicated program: you have to work backward from the effects through the chain of causes until you find out what actually happened. Only in this case it wasn't a bug I found but an unexpected but delightful feature. A butterfly? Perhaps.

So...

This sequence starts with the feeling, rather late Friday evening, of turning a corner in my mind.

The task ahead is daunting, and frustratingly slow. I'm in totally unfamiliar territory, and I don't even know who I am, let alone where.

But somehow, a couple of hours ago, I seem to have accepted that as a challenge instead of turning away and crawling back into my cave. It's the first night of Spring, and it's dark out there. But somehow there's a change in the light again.

The next day, I felt particularly happy. It wasn't until Sunday afternoon that I figured out that I was no longer afraid of something, and it took until later that evening, in The view around the corner, that I figured out that it was the recovery process I'm going through that was no longer frightening me:

Up until now it has been pretty scary. I was confused and lost in unfamiliar territory, and all the old landmarks were gone. The scenery was strange, the path was steep, and I kept getting stones in my shoes. But suddenly I realized that I was enjoying the walk. The scenery is weirdly beautiful, and the water in the river is clear, cool, and refreshing. Now and then I meet people on the same journey. I still don't know where I am or where I'm going, but that doesn't matter now.

I'm still being pretty metaphorical there, so I'll spell it out for the record. Up until Friday evening I'd been very worried about my seemingly-slow progress along this River path of mental recovery and reconstruction. Now I'm not: the process will be long, perhaps even endless, but I am making noticable progress and I'm content to enjoy it no matter how long it takes. I was confused about my mental state and about my changing self-image, and the confusion frightened me. Now it doesn't. It's fascinating. That's what finally got rid of my anxiety about it: the realization that the process was enjoyable and productive and fascinating by itself, and I don't have to worry about where it's taking me.

It wasn't until later Sunday evening that I finally figured out what the trigger was: looking into I Never Promised You a Rose Garden after being reminded of it in an IM session with [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi.

It wasn't until yesterday during my walk that the last link in the chain clicked into place and I realized that what Rose Garden had done was to engage my sense of wonder. Sure, there was pain and terror and confusion in it, but there were also hope, and a wonderful beauty. Yr resonated for me, and reminded me of my own river journey. The scenery is strange and the path is often difficult, but there is an alien beauty in that scenery, and the walk is exhilarating.

I seem to respond to mental imagery -- must be the poet in me. More on the imagery itself later.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
to.done 20090323 )

The major insight of the day, which I'll write about at greater length in a separate post, was that I Never Promised You a Rose Garden engaged my sense of wonder about my mental recovery/reconstruction process. That's what finally got rid of my anxiety about it: the realization that the process was enjoyable and productive and fascinating by itself, and I don't have to worry about where it's taking me.

Kat was furious at her sister when I got home; she had a good reason, but it was Justin's telling her -- and probably misreporting -- what the YD had said earlier to someone else that set off the explosion. I told him very firmly that one does not go repeating to someone what someone else said about them, and sent him home.

Colleen had two hours of PT, and is making progress. They're going to put her on the parallel bars for walking practice today.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

The weather stayed clear up until evening -- it's a good thing I got my walk in early, even if it was only 45 minutes or so.

We had dinner out at Black Angus with the kids. It'll be the last times we do that until Consonance, most likely.

We stopped at Barnes and Noble on the way home; there was a bewildering array of self-help and psychology books, including Therapy for Dummies. I didn't get any: I have a couple in the queue, and I have no way of knowing what's likely to be useful and what's crap. Recommendations?

Looking at the Five Things meme, I realized that I'd have a difficult time coming up with five things to ask about for most of the people on my friends list. Other people seem to be just the opposite: they have an easy time coming up with things to ask about, but a hard time answering. OK... I can just barely wrap my head around that, but it doesn't really surprise me.

mdlbear: (spoiler)

Last night I finished reading A Girl's Guide to Dating a Geek by Omi M. Inouye. It would have been a disappointing experience if I'd actually expected it to be worth reading. Fortunately for my future as an author of self-help books for geeks and their partners, it was every bit as lame an attempt at humor as I expected it to be.

The fact that it appears to be self-published is a tip-off.

I'm not going to go into detail; quite frankly it isn't worth the time. I did find it quite inspiring, in the same way that a badly-designed user interface, broken website, or ugly but expensive piece of furniture is inspiring: Even I can do better than that!

Back to The River!

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

So, I ordered three books today from Powell's. All are, in one way or another, related to the River:

  1. In Quest of the Mythical Mate by Ellyn Bader - recommended by my therapist.
  2. You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation by Deborah Tannen - recommended in a comment.
  3. A Girl's Guide to Dating a Geek by Omi Inouye - for competative analysis. Ran across this at ThinkGeek; based on the blurb and the author's website, I expect it to be lightweight, ostensibly funny, and useful primarily in the "I can do better than that" sense.

Should be arriving in a week or so.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Colleen's still in ER getting IV fluids to rehydrate her after four days of not being able to keep anything down. She sent me away at midnight as she was being wheeled away to X-ray; the blood cultures won't come back for several hours yet. She thinks it's another bacterial infection; she's usually right about what's going on in her body.

She's as comfortable as can be expected under the circumstances, with blankets, pillows, and her head up to ease the post-nasal drip. She'll probably sleep better than she has in days. The nurses are sweet and caring. She'll be fine.

I passed the time reading Ray Bradbury's The End of Summer. Didn't like it. It describes a boyhood as remote from mine as the mountains of the moon.

I need more aspirin, and sleep. G'night.

(5:50am She's ready to come home, apparently. As soon as I have some coffee.)

mdlbear: (spoiler)
Techdirt: If You're Looking To Learn Basic Economics, Here's A Free Textbook
Against Monopoly points us to an LA Times story about an economics professor from Caltech, R. Preston McAfee, who has written what he calls an "open source" economics textbook. You can download the textbook for free, and can even modify it (he offers up both a pdf version and a "source code" Word doc). It's not quite "open source" in that you're not allowed to do anything commercial with it, but it's certainly a lot cheaper than a standard econ textbook. We get plenty of questions here about where one should start learning about economics knowledge -- and while a textbook without a teacher isn't always the best place, if you did want to dig into a text, this is obviously a good place to start.
(I've changed the links anchors a little from the original article.) Looks useful, and the price is right. Even the printed copy price -- $11.10 -- is right, so go buy that if you prefer the hard stuff.
mdlbear: (spoiler)

I can do little better than rephrase [livejournal.com profile] snobahr's post pointing at a librarian's thoughtful, calm, and well-reasoned response to a patron's request to remove a book from their children's section. Looks like a particularly nice children's book on the subject of same-sex marriages and uncle-niece relationships, too.

See mood

Jul. 4th, 2008 11:01 pm
mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

I've been feeling both tired and restless all afternoon, and a little bit subdued as well. Odd. Subdued much of the week; it may be just a reaction to preceeding week's emotional high. Perhaps I'm getting back to what passes for normal these days. I'm not going to worry about it too much.

Got my walkies in around 5pm (Rose Garden); that could explain some of the tiredness, though I was a little tired before I started.

In other news, I've just found out that Janis Ian's autobiography is due out on July 24th, along with a 2 CD "best of" set. Yes, of course I've ordered it.

mdlbear: (spoiler)

There are lots of places to find books online. The Online Books Page at the University of Pennsylvania seems to be pointing to many of them.

(Indirectly from a locked post by [livejournal.com profile] kshandra.)

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

From BoingBoing comes a little Christmas present from Cory Doctorow:

Happy xmas! I've just posted a 2:23 reading I did of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland -- the first book I ever read to myself, and one of my all time favorites. The reading's under a Creative Commons Attribution-only license, so do anything you'd like with it! MP3 Link, Other formats.

mdlbear: (120-cell)

Today is, among other things, Newton's Birthday, which makes the [livejournal.com profile] flower_cat's gift to me of a copy of God Created the Integers: the Mathematical Breakthroughs that Changed History by Stephen Hawking particularly appropriate.

It's an anthology of some of the most important papers in mathematics, with Hawking's introductions, starting with extracts from Euclid's Elements and ending with Turing's On Computable Numbers. I'm planning to just read the introductions and skim the rest -- it's the sort of book in which I could easily lose myself for months.

Thank you, love!

mdlbear: (spoiler)

... you owe it to yourself to visit manybooks.net. Most of the content is from Project Gutenberg, with a wide range of formats generated on demand. The "about" page has a list of the convertsion software used, in case you want to do it yourself.

Did I mention that it's free? All free? All... those... books...

I do not have time to read all of H. P. Lovecraft and Lord Dunsany right now. I do not! AAARGH!

(From this post by [livejournal.com profile] catsittingstill.)

Wikisource

Oct. 20th, 2007 05:35 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I have been having altogether too much fun looking around Wikisource. This companion to Wikipedia contains original texts in the public domain, including darned near all of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.P. Lovecraft, and Jules Verne. They also have an excellent help page on copyright, which is how I landed there in the first place.

I have way too much to do to be reading my way through Wikisource. I just have to convince myself of that.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)
Producing Open Source Software by Karl Fogel:
Producing Open Source Software is a book about the human side of open source development. It describes how successful projects operate, the expectations of users and developers, and the culture of free software. It is available in bookstores and from the publisher (O'Reilly Media), or you can browse or download it here.
Producing Open Source Software is released under an open copyright that allows everyone to share and modify the book freely. The latest version is always here. The online version is the same as the commercially available print version — in other words, you can buy a printed copy and know that it's up-to-date. When and if there are significant differences, we will list them here.
It's available online as HTML, multi-page HTML, PDF, XML, and even as a Subversion repository.

This is a good introduction to the art of starting and managing an open source project. Starting and maintaining a community is very different from starting and maintaining a piece of software, so even an experienced hacker is likely to find something new and interesting here. Most of it is based on Fogel's experience with the Subversion project, but it's widely applicable, and the appendix listing free version control systems is reasonably comprehensive.

I'm not going to bother posting the TOC -- just go here for the real thing.

Well worth a read, and the price is right.
mdlbear: (spoiler)

Ganked from [livejournal.com profile] kayshapiro and [livejournal.com profile] thatcrazycajun: These are the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing's users (as of today whenever it was). As usual, bold what you have read, italicize what you started but couldn't finish, and strike through what you couldn't stand. The numbers after each one are the number of LT users who used the tag of that book.

The list. )
mdlbear: (iLuminati)
Red Hat Magazine | Building a community around your open source project
There are a vast number of fantastic open source projects out there, though for every one that is widely adopted, there are many that remain cloaked in relative obscurity. How can the open source development model best be leveraged to take advantage of community feedback, ideas, and testing, and ultimately gather code contributions? If you are just thinking about open sourcing a new project, what steps can you take to ensure a vibrant community? If you already have an open source project, how can you make your community more active? The community can make any project stronger, but they are not built automatically.
(Via Linux Weekly News. Comments also pointed to a book on Producing Open Source Software (available free (cc-at-sa) from its website; reviewed here). I'll get back to that when I have time.)

The broad outlines of a possible open source project are starting to come together in my mind, somewhere in the vicinity of my CD-production tools, the website management tools, and the (still hypothetical) distributed blogging stuff. The encrypted off-site backup scheme may be separate; hard to tell at this point. More on that later.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

It's been raining all morning, which settled the question of whether I'd take my walk by the creek or down to the rose garden: no, I won't. If it doesn't clear up I'll go find a suitable shopping mall.

I did go to the post office to mail a CD order, followed by Fry's and the bank. Fry's had a copy of the recently-published, definitive edition of The Annotated Alice, so of course I grabbed it along with the 2GB SD card, SD-to-USB adapter, and powered USB-2 hub that I'd gone in for.

(update: not all that recent -- the copyright date is 2000. But the two previous ones were 1960 and 1990. It may have been recently re-published, though.)

mdlbear: (spoiler)
Tangent Article - Rant Fantastic - Dave Wolverton
I recently read in Tangent #17 James Gunn's response to a question by Cynthia Ward, who asked about the dichotomy between mainstream literary standards and those of science fiction and fantasy, and asked someone to "Name names."

I respect Gunn's work a great deal, but I disagreed with his response, partly because I began my writing career in the literary mainstream, made my first money in that field, and eventually came to recognize that fundamentally I disagreed with much of what was being done. There are differences between my approach to writing as a modern fantasist (who makes no apologies for being a commercial writer) and the approach taken by literary mainstream writers. The issues aren't trivial.

Cynthia asked what the earmarks are of a mainstream story, and Gunn responded by saying that its "distinguishing characteristic is that it has no distinguishing genre characteristic."

This is of course what my professors taught me in English Lit 101. And it is somewhat true. The Western genre is defined by its setting. The Romance and Mystery genres are defined by the types of conflict the tales will deal with. Speculative fiction may be defined by the fact that we as authors and fans typically agree that nothing like the story that we tell has ever happened--though one could well argue that speculative fiction isn't a "genre" in the classical sense anyway.

But I contend that over the past 120 years, and particularly in the last 20 years, the literary mainstream has evolved into a genre with its own earmarks. It is just as rigid in its strictures and just as narrow in its accepted treatment of characters, conflicts and themes as any other genre.
(Via this post by [livejournal.com profile] kayshapero a couple of days ago.)
mdlbear: (120-cell)
NPR: A Four-Dimensional Tribute to the Late Madeleine L'Engle
An actual tesseract is best described as a four dimensional cube...and is kind of confusing. So, in memory of L'Engle, we met up with Physicist David Morgan who took a little time out of his day to talk tesseracts with the BPP. Put your measley three-dimensional brains to work on this (Via Boing Boing)

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